Letting Go of Christmas Expectations

Presents are wrapped and sitting perfectly under the tree. Each gift was carefully thought out and your expectations of the reaction of the loved one opening the gift are almost overflowing. You have the perfect breakfast planned out, complete with a beautiful table set up. Christmas day will be perfect, you think to yourself as you put the finishing touches on the cinnamon rolls.

And then it isn't perfect.

The reactions for the gifts are not what you expected and your breakfast turns out less than what you hoped for. Suddenly, all that you expected for Christmas is seeming to be crashing down and you settle into a mood of disappointment.

Our expectations can result in great disappointment if we are not careful. Over time, I have had to learn to be careful with my expectations and not accepting the lie they whisper to me. In my mind, I have events played out perfectly, but then real life happens. 

Things do not always go as expected, and when we learn to accept that we can move forward in peace. Letting go of the built up expectations enables us to be open to the moments that were once hidden. 

When we were setting up our Christmas tree last year, I unknowingly had created high expectations. I anticipated Christmas music playing and the kids each delicately hanging ornaments. It would be a magical memory. 

Clearly, I forgot that I had two little energetic boys and a toddling girl. Instead of Christmas music, Frosty the Snowman was on, and a few ornaments were broken because of way too eager children. Everything felt frantic as I attempted to piece it into a picture of perfection.

When things do not go as planned, we have a choice. In that moment, I could get upset about things not going as planned, or let go and relax. Sometimes we just have to let go and laugh. 

When I let go, I saw the excitement of my children. I saw that I had placed too high of expectations on the evening and had not taken into account their ages and what would be appropriate.

We all have expectations about various things. It can be about having kids, Christmas, family dinners, marriage, and so on. Without even intentionally doing so, we naturally form expectations surrounding an upcoming event. Then when things do not go as planned, we become annoyed and frustrated.

Whatever it is that you are anticipating, I encourage you to take inventory of your expectations. Let go of the need for the perfectly laid out intentional moments and be open to the moments that may happen in the imperfection.

When we let go of our expectations, we are able to freely live and be open to new lessons. When we let go of our expectations ,we are letting go of our striving to gain control.

This Christmas season, my challenge to myself and you is to let go and see the beauty in the unplanned moments.

This article first appeared in a Christmas series at Keri Lynn Snyder.

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